Walk & Talk for Health program steps out next week

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

Finger Lakes Health will kick off the second Walk &Talk for Health program the second week of May.

Community members are encouraged “to join with our local healthcare providers and walk your way to a healthier you” with this free program.

The walk in Penn Yan will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11 at the Penn Yan Boat Launch site on the Keuka Outlet Trail. Walks will continue on a regular schedule for five months.

Similar walks are being held in Geneva and Waterloo.

Walks will offer participants the opportunity to fit a little physical activity into their schedules and to meet the healthcare providers in their community in an informal setting. All interested participants also will be given an opportunity to be part of a Health Improvement Group that will include blood pressure and body mass index checks, along with cholesterol and A1C (glucose) blood tests – all free of charge. Walks will last 30-minutes each. Walkers will be given a pedometer at the first walk they attend and will be invited to track their steps during the walks, as well as between the walks, to be entered in a drawing for a special prize.

Additionally, the tracking of steps will offer walkers a way to help achieve their personal fitness goals. There will be prize drawings at each walk as well.

Last year’s Health Improvement Group winner, Deb Wehnau of Penn Yan, says, “I can’t wait to go again and work towards a new goal.”

One of her prizes as the Health Improvement Group winner was the EA Sports game that she uses on her Wii. “I am so enjoying letting the EA Sports keep me in shape,” she said, adding,  “What a challenge.”

The Walk & Talk for Health program is an outgrowth of Finger Lakes Health’s collaboration with county Public Health Departments that looked at community health needs and how to address those needs.

All three counties in Finger Lakes Health’s service area – Ontario, Seneca and Yates – identified similar health priorities. They are access to  care, chronic disease, specifically cardiovascular disease, and physical activity and nutrition.

“Finger Lakes Health’s Walk & Talk for Health program is intended to help address all the priorities,” explained Loree MacKerchar, manager of Community Relations for Finger Lakes Health. “The walks will provide an opportunity for participants to meet doctors and other health professionals in an informal setting, and learn about accessing care when they need it,” she added.

“We plan to have a Health Improvement Group among the interested walkers to track risk factors for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases during the course of the program. And, of course, we intend for the program to increase walkers’ physical activity,” MacKerchar further explained.

“Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to improve your overall health and fitness,” MacKerchar said. It can help:

· Control your weight

· Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease

· Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome

· Reduce your risk of some cancers

· Strengthen your bones and muscles

· Improve your mental health and mood

· Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls

· Increase your chances of living longer

Walkers who want to be part of the Health Improvement Group will voluntarily have their blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) done, as well as cholesterol and blood sugar screenings. The screenings will be completed early in the program and then again at the end of the program to track outcomes.

Walkers are encouraged to bring family and friends; wear sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and comfortable walking shoes and to bring water.

No reservations are needed, but those wishing more information can call Finger Lakes Health’s Community Services Department at 315-531-2053 or 315-787-4636 or visit the website at www.flhealth.org/walktalk.